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Young Architects Represent Estonia at the XIV Biennale di Venezia in 2014

The entry entitled ‘Vaba ruum’ (Open Space), the authors of which are Johanna Jõekalda, Johan Tali and Siim Tuksam, has won the open international competition to select the curator for Estonia’s exposition at the XIV International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in 2014. Open Space is a project which deals with connections between virtual and physical public space in a globalising context. According to the competition Jury, the winning entry Open Space has a great concept and potential to draw positive attention to Estonia as well as to communicate with a wider international audience.

The Estonian Centre of Architecture in cooperation with the Union of Estonian Architects, the Estonian Cultural Endowment and the Estonian Ministry of Culture announced an open international competition on 2 April 2013 with the aim of finding the best idea and curator for the Estonian exposition at the XIV International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in 2014. The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has been appointed as the Artistic Director of the architecture exhibition and has announced the main theme to be Fundamentals: Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014. The event will be held from 7 June to 23 November 2014 in Venice, Italy.

Last week on 23 May the finalists of the Estonian curator competition presented their concepts of the Estonian exposition for the Jury as well as a larger audience at the Flash Lecture event in Tallinn, organized by the Estonian Centre of Architecture.

Seven of the twenty proposals submitted to the curator competition were selected for the final round. The criteria for judging the entries were 1) a good and outstanding idea, 2) competence of the project team, and 3) feasibility of the idea within the predetermined budget. The Jury considered it important that the concept takes the ideas of the Biennale’s Artistic Director into account, is topical in a global sense, and deals with important aspects of architectural thought and practice in Estonia over the last hundred years as well as in contemporary Estonia. The Jury consisted of chairman Peeter Pere, members Ülar Mark, Yoko Alender, Veljo Kaasik, Liina Siib, Tüüne-Kristin Vaikla, and experts Piret Lindpere and Andres Kurg.

The Jury selected Open Space by the young architects Johanna Jõekalda, Johan Tali and Siim Tuksam as the winner from among the seven finalists. According to the authors, the combined effect of digital and physical public space is the focus of Estonia’s upcoming exposition. Open Space deals with the connections between virtual and physical public space and investigates how that relationship changes in time. The curators insist that the relations between time and space have changed in the course of the digitalisation process and that situation might provide opportunity to liberate us as users from those conservative, restrictive conventions which have been established for public spaces during the past century.

The Jury’s general appraisal of the winning entry: “Open Space is the most interesting, yet also the most complicated project in the competition. The concept of public space interwoven with digital strata is well thought out theoretically. It is also topical and has the potential to bring Estonia to the fore compared to the rest of the world. It also has the potential to enter into dialogue with the Biennale’s general theme and ideas of the Artistic Director.”

According to chairman of the Jury, architect Peeter Pere, the timeliness of the concept and the wish of the authors to develop their idea further were the decisive factors in the selection of the winning entry. “Johanna Jõekalda, Johan Tali and Siim Tuksam are indeed young and still at the beginning of their path of development as architects, but I believe that they have the potential to bring contemporary Estonian architecture to the international public in an exciting and up-to-date way,” said Pere, according to whom the winning entry also seemed better than its competitors to tie in with the main theme formulated by Rem Koolhaas. “Public space and the development of technology have been the key words throughout the last century, yet they may turn out to be just as important in the subsequent period as well. I believe that Estonia’s exposition in Venice will strengthen Estonia’s good reputation as an e-country and will skilfully tie it in with the topic of architecture,” added Pere.

The Jury appreciated Open Space not only for its intriguing exposition idea and a capable and enthusiastic team, but also for the process itself initiated by the authors of the concept – potential to attract professionals and visionaries from different fields, to function as an open platform in communication between people both at the Biennale and beyond it, and also its potential to develop public discussion about public space in Estonia.

Open Space also emerged as the audience’s favourite receiving 41% of the audience votes at the Flash Lecture event on 23 May in Tallinn.

In addition to the winning entry, the Jury decided to single out two entries that stood out in terms of the originality of idea and potential for an intriguing exposition – Villem Tomiste’s Summer Vacationing and Cooperatives and Matteo Poli’s Estonian Worthwhile Architecture.

The finalists of the curator competition for the Estonian exposition at the XIV International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in 2014 were:

  • Estonian Worthwhile Architecture (Matteo Poli, Italy)

  • Hygienic Architecture (Villem Tomiste, Estonia)

  • Modern School (Indrek Saarepera, Estonia)

  • Summer Vacationing and Cooperatives (Villem Tomiste, Estonia)

  • New Sensitivity and Intimacy in Estonian Architecture (Karin Paulus, Maria Pukk, Ivar Lubjak, Estonia)

  • Open Space (Johanna Jõekalda, Johan Tali, Siim Tuksam, Estonia)

  • Little is Humane (Leonhard Lapin, Estonia)


Open Space presented at the ECA’s Flash Lecture in Tallinn on 23 May 2013 (in Estonian)
La Biennale di Venezia

Lill Sarv, Project Manager, Estonian Centre of Architecture
+372 5676 0167,

Peeter Pere, Chairman of the Jury
+372 56 51 015,

Ülar Mark, Commissioner of the Estonian exposition in Venice, Member of the Jury
+372 50 38 872,